A Dark Day For Our NHS

Despite the backlash, the controversy, the strikes, the overwhelming support of the British public, Jeremy Hunt has pressed on and has announced that the Government will impose the new contracts on the Junior Doctors.

In my opinion by simply forcing the contract rather than continuing with negotiations suggests the Health Secretary is lacking in confidence in his own arguments and perhaps shows that he is afraid of the public beginning to see through his incoherent points.

The Junior Doctors contribute massively to our health care system and this needs to be valued and recognised with more significance. The years of training and hard work they go through to look after the people of Britain should not be going unnoticed.  The imposition of a new contract, which has been unanimously fought against will only lead to more strikes and further problems for Jeremy Hunt.

Could this symbolise the beginning of the end for one of the greatest achievements in British Politics; The NHS?

Elephants in the Commons

 

On the day of the 2nd strike over the Junior Doctors Contract, not once was it mentioned at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. David Cameron was subjected to half an hour of questions on the day of the strike but neither he, nor Jeremy Corbyn, nor any backbencher from any party raised the subject.

Questions asked by Jeremy Corbyn were mainly about the housing crisis and especially how young people would be able to afford to buy homes.

The closest any politician came to implicitly mentioning the medics’ stoppage was Corbyn wearing a pro-trade union badge on his label reading “heart unions”. The badge was however a nod towards the campaign to stop the Government’s proposed anti-trade union laws, rather than direct reference to the strike.

There are no urgent questions or statements about the strike scheduled for later today, meaning the main platform for discussing it in Parliament has been missed.

Labour’s lack of will to capitalise on the strike in the Commons comes despite a very high proportion of the public blaming the Government for it. An Ipsos MORI poll for the Health Service Journal found 64 per cent of people believe the Government is to blame for the strike, while 13 per cent say junior doctors are. Whilst according to a poll by Sky News, 74% of people back today’s walkout by junior doctors.

A Department of Health spokesperson said this morning: “This strike is completely unnecessary. It is very disappointing that tens of thousands of patients and NHS staff have been inconvenienced by the BMA.”

Other significant issues that were missed out during PMQs was questions regarding the EU referendum. The topic was ignored by MPs, despite it dominating much of the discussion in Westminster ahead of next week’s crunch EU summit. A subject which in recent weeks’ has dominated news’ headlines was not questioned even once.

David Cameron was not asked about his mother, Mary. Earlier this week it was revealed she had put her name to a campaign against plans by Conservative run Oxfordshire County Council to close a number of children’s centres as a result of government cuts. Cuts introduced by her son. However, again the issue was ignored.

Furthermore, recently published figures have revealed cases where children have been admitted to A&E and were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders – and had also intentionally harmed themselves – has more than doubled since 2011. The statistics show that self-harm among those with mental health problems under the age of 18 rose from 1,098 in 2010/11 to 2,313 in 2014/15. The figures also come as the number of children diagnosed with mental illnesses has more than doubled in five years, and cases of intentional self-harm have also surged. However the topic was not raised by MPs at today’s prime minister’s questions.

David Cameron must think PMQs nowadays are just a stroll in the park. Jeremy Corbyn ought to step it up, if he really wants to see David Cameron begin to wobble.

Scrapping University grants, IT’S NOT RIGHT, ITS NOT FAIR

Student grants, which are so influential and important for many students in helping them to reason with the cost of going to university, are being scrapped and replaced by loans.

How terrible, you might say. But it gets worse. In order to push through the plans of scrapping the maintenance grants, which helps half a million students, there will be no Commons debate and no parliamentary vote. Instead of meeting in the house of commons to openly debate and discuss this issue like a ‘democracy’ ought to, it is being discussed in a small unknown room, where the Third Delegated Legislation Committee- A small group of MPs, which has a tory majority, will gather to consider the motion. But even if the committee did want to quash the proposals, they will have no power to do so. It is absolutely scandalous that such a major decision is being taken in this way.

As a student who relies heavily on student grants to survive university, its hard to comprehend the absurdity of the proposals, as the government sneakily tries to transfer these grants into repayable loans.

These grants were provided by the government to help those from the poorest backgrounds and alleviate the cost of making students pay more for their university degree. When the Coalition government increased tuition fees by trebling them to £9,000, we were told that the increase in maintenance grants for students ‘should ensure that the reforms do not affect individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds disproportionately’.

The current grants provide the right amount of finance for students to live off and have some disposable income. Yes, the proposals will Increase the amount of money that we receive, however with already a mountain of debt to contend due to the trebling of fees, the offer of alternative loans will make the situation even worse. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that the poorest 40% of students will now graduate with debts of up to £53,000 for a three year course, rather than £40,500 at present.

This is undoubtedly going to discourage poorer students from seeking out further education altogether, with further evidence from the IFS, who found that a £1,000 increase in grants created a 3.95% increase in university participation.

This is not a small technical alteration to the way students are being financially supported, it is a major change which could deprive many students in England the chance of going to university.

It is outrageous that this is being implemented, but it is even more outrageous with the manner in which it is being allowed. The Conservatives are ruining the opportunity of going to University for thousands of students- and its not right nor fair.

In a modern day society, it should surely be one of the main objectives of any government, regardless of the politics, that education be of paramount importance. And that future doctors, lawyers, teachers and politicians(!) be given equal support and the best opportunities to become part of the fabric that makes a better and successful society.

For the first time in 40 years #JuniorDoctorsStrike

Junior doctors should be made to work long, unsocial hours, whilst also getting a pay cut, right? NO

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, wants to create a National Health Service that runs 7 days a week- Okay, nothing wrong so far. Except the government can’t afford to and do not currently have the capacity to do this. So, in order to make the plans feasible, junior doctors’ hours will be increased, overall pay will decrease, and ultimately patients will suffer- Okay, now its going wrong.

Before I continue, Junior Doctors are basically any qualified doctor who is not a consultant nor a General Practitioner. There are around 55,000 Junior Doctors in England.

For the first time in 40 years, Doctors are going on strike and this is why:

It’s not about money. In November, whilst the doctors were offered a pay rise by 11%, this was offset by cutting pay for anti-social hours. And these hours are the reason for the ongoing dispute.

The UK has a finite number of junior doctors, and the NHS is being severely over stretched, even before the implementation of a 7 day NHS. ‘Social Hours’ used to mean Monday to Friday, between 7am to 7pm. However, with an expansion of services, and a limited number of doctors to cover, social hours now include Saturdays and hours up to 10pm. Under the previous contract, working these unsociable hours meant earning extra pay, however that has now been cut by 25%.

Unsocial hours means their right to a work-life balance, to spend time with their own families is taken away. It means increased pressure on the doctors, who already work in probably the most pressured working environment.

Patients will also suffer. Tired, stressed, and overworked doctors’ who lack morale and motivation is clearly not good, and will put patients at risk.

Doctors, obviously, are at the heart of making the NHS work, they are the ones having to make life changing decisions, treating cancer patients, carrying out open heart surgery, and the one’s who will have to inform the families of their patients the bad news, and now Jeremy Hunt wants them to have to go through all of that, some more. The NHS was founded by Aneurin Bevan on the principle to, ‘put the patients at the heart of everything it does’. Stressed, tired, overworked doctors does not allow this. It’s not fair on the Junior Doctors’ and not fair on their patients.

Less and less young people want to become doctors, more and more medical students are dropping out, because for what they get, they’ll lose a lot more. And its killing the NHS.

We are indebted to junior doctors: either for our own health and lives, or those of relatives, friends and partners, these doctors are fundamental to keeping the NHS alive.

Doctors’ won’t want to strike, but they’re having to. They joined the profession to care for others, but without a fair contract they can’t.